这些日子, 我们不能去任何地方没有看到一家麦当劳® 或者星巴克®, 虽然它可能是很难想象 - 他们曾经创业过. 前者一开始是在伊利诺伊州的一个单一的汉堡店, 美国并从此膨胀到一个庞大的 35,000 网点 119 国家. 星巴克® 咖啡, 与此同时, 开始 1971 并销售优质咖啡豆及相关设备. 当他们终于开始卖咖啡饮料, 他们偶然发现了一些与巨大潜力. 星巴克® 现在大约有 21,000 网点 63 国家.
但是，让我们开始在一开始. 这些店如何做, 处理常见的非成熟的产品, 即使创业成功, 更成长为国际化经营，他们的今天? 在哪里 知识产权 有了用武之地?
What do people want?
A business that brings in repeat customers tends to have a certain uniqueness to it, so start-up owners will have to look at features and characteristics of businesses that attract customers, find something that stands out about their start-up idea and properly conceptualise, articulate, and document these features. Everyone knows that a successful business will spur copycats, “me-too” products or identical business models. You need look no further than the emergence of familiarly-styled coffee chains following the Starbucks® boom.
But I’m just a start-up – do I need to care about potential competitors?
简而言之, yes. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late and all your blood, sweat and tears have gone to waste. So here’s what you can do. 首先, your business / product / service name(小号) can be registered as a trademark. Once done, no one can use an identical or substantially similar mark for the same type of business or products – not even ex-partners, shareholders, ex-employees or suppliers. Your trademark identifies your business to the public so it is very critical that the trademark is registered promptly (it is more affordable than you think!).
Next, you should have a consistent “trade dress”. The importance of this particular right will of course depend on the nature of your start-up. Trade dress includes the ambience and colour scheme of your store, “cultural” elements, type of music played, even the floor colour – basically, any aspect of the store that is unique. Other aspects of trade dress include uniforms, menu cards, cutlery, furniture, and so forth – some of which can be protected by acquiring 工业设计权 要么 专利权 (the former being for the outer appearance of the products and the latter being for the function of the products/processes). So when a customer deals with you, he/she will recognise these as your defining features.
Can you keep a secret?
Trade secrets (also known as confidential information/trade know-how/secret formulas) refer to any information or business aspect that is not publicly known or easily accessible. This can include supplier/customer lists, customer demographics, sales pattern variations on a weekly, monthly or annual basis, pricing policy, staff remuneration package, 等. All trade secrets and documents containing trade secrets should be scrupulously managed and information should be given on a need-to-know basis. Merely marking files or documents as “Trade Secret” or “Confidential” is not sufficient if there is no control as to who has access to these files. 同样，, merely depending on copyright protection is not sufficient. Any confidential documentation should be handled as a trade secret.
So how do you protect your brilliant ideas?
好了, it’s simple – don’t discuss it until you’ve executed it. 要么, if you simply must discuss the idea or business proposal with someone, you should enter into a simple Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the other party. With such an agreement in place, an action for breach of contract can be pursued in the Courts in the event that any copying takes place.
In a nutshell…
As your start-up grows, it is often necessary to engage professional advisors who not only ensure that quality and standards are maintained, but also ensure the efficiency of your operations. Source identifiers, such as trademarks, trade names, patent and industrial design rights, confidential information and all Intellectual Property rights should be properly managed and enforced against any infringers. Even at the beginning.
免责声明: This article is by no means comprehensive and should not be treated as legal advice. For specific and detailed advice, do consult experienced IP professionals.